5 Minutes With… Louise Breckon-Richards

Following the loss of her voice, actress Louise Breckon-Richards used running as a rehabilitation tool to overcome her struggle. She logged her experience in a series of blog posts and diary entries which have now been turned into a play at The Pleasance, London. Can you hear me running? is a story about overcoming adversity and finding a new voice when your old one is broken and never giving up until you reach the finish line. We caught up with Louise to talk fitness, the London Marathon and her new production.

  • Louise on… signing up for the London Marathon
    I’d been very inspired years earlier by three of my close friends who ran it and their commitment to training and fundraising. When I was having vocal issues, I took up running initially to relieve stress but as my confidence grew I decided to challenge myself with a marathon. I needed to feel like I had a new goal to focus on and one where I could also help others - I ran for Shelter.

  • Louise on… recovery
    Running definitely helped me mentally after my vocal surgery. It was comforting to find another muscle that was gaining strength when another was getting weaker. I think running can help when you feel there is nothing ahead of you. You can gain a sense of control by leading yourself on paths you’ve never taken and you make your own choice about how long and how far you want to go. I would recommend running, even if it’s just five minutes around the block, when you feel frustrated or anxious as it just gets your breath to a different place. It may not be the same for everyone but for me it brought me back into my body again when I felt I was disappearing or being overlooked.

  • Louise on… training
    Even now when I’m running, there are days when it feels like I’m wading through treacle but there are also the great days when you feel so strong. It was the same with the marathon training. The long training runs at the end felt like a real feat of endurance and took up lots of time, but I kept thinking of the money I was raising, the new found sense of purpose and how my body would always feel invigorated and alive when I was done.

  • Louise on… her running playlist
    I tried to plan good opening tracks and closing ones to look forward to on my runs. I generally started with U2’s Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For which would take me back to my teenage years. I would then put something long on like Insomnia by Faithless in the middle to keep the pace up and near the end for my own cinematic pleasure (as I am an actress and wanted my own soundtrack at the end for dramatic poignancy) I’d end with Elbow’s One Day Like This.

  • Louise on… marathon day
    I felt prepared but very nervous. Your mind goes all over the place when you’re running a marathon. Part of me was just taking it all in, the crowds, the people, other runners and then now and again I’d find myself thinking about people I really cared about, the past and what I wanted next in my life. It’s tough but very meditative. If I’m being honest, when I crossed the finish line I felt so sick and dizzy, I couldn’t quite feel the elation as some runners do. It was only after when I saw my husband, children and my mum that I felt overjoyed.

  • Louise on… Can You Hear Me Running?
    Can You Hear Me Running? is a play about reaching out to find other things in your life when things go wrong. Having vocal problems as a performer was devastating but by taking up running and writing, I’m able to get back on stage and share my experiences. Audiences will hopefully find it funny, moving and ultimately uplifting. It’s a great feeling to be on stage again and to share the story. I hope it will inspire but also entertain.

  •  5 Minutes With… Louise Breckon-Richards

Can You Hear Me Running? charts the real life experiences of Louise Breckon Richards, a performer who lost her voice to a rare condition and decides to overcome it by running the London Marathon. The play is being shown at The Pleasance, London until 23rd October. To book, visit}